Five Florida Hospitals Set To Receive First Wave of COVID-19 Vaccine Upon Approval

A single bottle vial of Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in a research medical lab. 3D illustration. Courtesy: Shutterstock – Photo By solarseven

Perhaps the only silver lining Florida will have in regards to the coronavirus is access to the first wave of COVID-19 approved vaccines.

Over the past two weeks, pharmaceutical powerhouses Moderna and Pfizer announced the completion of its vaccine clinical trials reporting success rates upwards of 95 percent.

Last Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Twitter that Florida is preparing to receive thousands of dosages of the vaccine from both pharmaceutical companies pending emergency government approval. The governor believes that the state will receive such approval to administer the vaccine within the next three weeks.

Courtesy: Go. Ron DeSantis Twitter/ @GovRonDeSantis

Initial reports from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech revealed a 90 percent effectiveness rate and was later bumped up to 95 percent. 

“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, and co-founder told The Associated Press.

Days after Pfizer’s announcement, Moderna announced similar results with a vaccine that had a 95 percent rate of effectiveness, with key findings in the highest risk group of adults aged 65-plus. 

According to a recently published game plan by the Florida Department of Health, a phased distribution plan will be exercised with healthcare workers, high-risk/underlying condition patients, and adults 65-plus are expected to be among the first to be granted access to the vaccine.

Unfortunately, with the magnitude of the virus and the immense demand for the vaccine worldwide, immediate widespread distribution is impossible due to supply issues of readily available vaccines.

But because of the severity of cases and age population in Florida, the state jumps ahead of the line and will be one of the first places in the world to administer the vaccine. Gov. DeSantis announced that the state identified five Florida hospitals would have limited dosages of the vaccine within 24 hours of emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccines would be shipped cross country and be readily available within 24 hours of its approval at: 

  • Tampa General
  • AdventHealth Orlando
  • UF Health Jacksonville
  • Memorial Regional Hospital (Hollywood)
  • Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami)

The five hospitals were reportedly selected because of their ability to store and distribute the vaccine produced by Pfizer and Moderna to millions by the end of December.

Along with the hospitals, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are expected to receive dosages of the vaccine shortly after in an effort to speed up the distribution process and directly provide aid to roughly 2,000 long-term care facilities within the state.

“I do, though, believe that these breakthroughs represent probably the greatest rays of hope that we have seen since the pandemic began. They offer the prospect of saving thousands and thousands of lives and could potentially bring this pandemic to an end,” said DeSantis speaking on the vaccines. The governor also assured that no one would be forced to take the vaccine.

A statement released by Jackson Health System read as follows:

“Jackson Health System is among the hospitals working closely with the Florida Department of Health to receive COVID-19 vaccines. We completed the proper registration to be eligible for participation in the Florida Shots Program. We expect to receive a limited supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December and are prepared with the proper storage to begin immediate distribution. We have purchased equipment, such as ultra-cold freezers, to ensure we have capacity to safely store the vaccine. During the first phase, the vaccine will be available for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care staff and residents, and first responders.”

The selected hospitals and transport companies are tasked with providing ample certified “very-cold” storage places to keep the vaccines as fresh as possible before they can be administered and through the transit process. Vaccines must be transported and stored at temperatures as low as -94F.

Multiple carriers are ready to assist in the transport and distribution process once approved by the FDA. “We’re poised and ready for this process,” said Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Americas. “There will be basically a sensor that will travel with every one of the shipments so that we know what is going on. Not only from a temperature perspective but where those shipments are at all times.”

According to Pfizer and BioNTech, they expect to have 50 million doses globally in 2020 and upwards of 1.3 billion in 2021. U.S. officials hope to have access to 40 million combined doses between Moderna and Pfizer by late December.

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